I arrived to find nobody on the pond so I tiptoed round to the swim and crawled along the bank to see if anyone was home. Most of the fish were tucked well back in the snags just under the surface sunning themselves. I broke up a few crusts and deposited them around the outside of the submerged braches and did the same with a dozen or so cubes of meat. As nothing showed an interest in the bread, apart for a few rudd, I went for the bottom bait rod, armed with a huge chunk of meat, fished tight to the sunken tree. I set the rod up on the sticks, inserted another bank stick to act as a snag bar and set the clutch to only give line in case of an emergency. After a series of twitches the line tightened and the tip nodded, I was on it like a flash and started to reel a small tench in. Half an hour later I landed another tench and decided to give the surface fishing a bit more attention. I watched as the rudd devoured every crust, but as the light started to fade I noticed a few larger swirls. Two commons came into view, both around ten pounds so I held off with the rod and kept feeding to see if the ghostie would have a go. Soon enough she turned up, circled under the baits and came up for a sniff. Interestingly she had a friend with her, an identical fish only a little smaller in girth and depth of flank, I put her in the fifteen pound bracket with the big girl certainly over twenty. I watched as BG’s buddy nosed a crust around before sinking away out of sight.
Back along the dam I got back to the bottom rod, lowered a rig on the spot once more and retreated. A few minutes passed and the bobbin lifted, very slowly and the tip just quivered. I lifted and felt a bit more resistance than before, I thought possibly one of the small commons or a larger tench, but the hook pulled after 30 or so seconds. With the commotion and the crusts still being poked about I got back up the bank with the floater rod to hand and tossed out a few more crusts. A common appeared below me, took one crust and I lowered my hook-bait into his path, without hesitation he took it and I struck, there was an almighty explosion on the surface, water sprayed everywhere and my line fell slack, the fish was gone.
I was looking at the time and realise that I only had around half an hour to go. With all the commotion of the two lost fish I didn’t think it worth fishing on, and as Steve was fishing the middle pond I was heavily swaying towards packing down and joining him for a brew. But something told me to have one more cast, so another chunk of meat was rigged up and dropped onto the spot. It got dark and I kept looking at the watch. Then it happened, a single bleep followed by the bobbin cracking against the rod and the tip bending a full 45 degrees. I picked up the rod, stuck the tip under the water and walked away from the snags with my hand over the spool. Keeping the fish away from the snags wasn’t a problem and at first I thought it was one of the small commons, but under the rod tip things changed, I couldn’t lift it, it just hugged the bottom, swam round and round taking line whenever it wanted to and started to gain its respect with every minute that passed. It took quite a while but eventually I caught a glimpse of it in the headlamp beam, and I could see straight away it was a ghostie, but which one?
It still took a while to bring the fish to the net with me missing once and almost messing it up, but once in the net I really couldn’t tell if it was or wasn’t the big girl. It looked long enough but not deep enough. I called Steve who came to help with the photos. At first he thought it was her but as I lifted the net out there just wasn’t enough weight. The other fish was deeper, had more girth and was slightly longer, but to look at they were identical in appearance. On the scales our thoughts were confirmed when the needle settled on 16lb 2oz. Steve obliged with the pictures and I released her at the next swim along.
An impressive looking fish she was, but I really thought there for a minute that the job was done. I was close catching the fish she was always hanging around with, and that made me even more eager to get back and get the job done. I packed my things away, thanked Steve for the photos and headed off home.